About Alexander

I am a Master Mason from Lodge St John Mid Calder, under the Grand Lodge of Scotland who serves as an Administrator with Masonic Network.org. I am also a Royal Arch Mason, Royal Ark Mariner, Knight Mason, Royal and Select Master, Member of the Order of the Eastern Star and Corkie.

A Brother in Arms – Arthur, Duke of Wellington

Freemasonry was a thread that ran through the life of Arthur, Duke of Wellington, his life was divided by a triumphant military career and an equally successful political one.  His early involvement in both fields kept him away from home, which may explain why, he never progressed beyond the first degree of Freemasonry. 

Arthur Wesley, whose original 12th century name Wellesley was reverted to by the family in 1798, was almost certainly born in Dublin on 1 May 1769. Wellington was the third of the five sons born to Garret Wesley III and Anne Hill. All of the Wesley children excelled in his own field of endeavour.

Arthur attended Eton College from 1781 to 1784 and after an additional two years of private tuition, he joined the prestigious Royal Academy of Equitation at Angers in Anjou, France. Through the influence of his elder Brother Richard, he was launched on a military career from the start. 

He returned to Ireland in February 1788 and was appointed aide-de-camp to the Lord Lieutenant, and simultaneously followed in the political footsteps of the family. A Wesley had had a presence in the Irish Parliament since its inception as an independent Assembly in 1782. In April 1790 Arthur was elected MP for Trim, Ireland, aged 21. 

His was initiated into the family Lodge, Trim No. 494, on 7 December the same year. Both his father and his brother served as Masters, and they both became Grand Masters of the Grand Lodge of Ireland. 

Garrett Wellesley, first Earl of Mornington, was proposed as a member of the Lodge by one of its founders, John Boulger, and was raised a Master Mason in July 1775. A year later he served as Master of the Lodge and was elected Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Ireland, serving for one year, as was customary at the time, being succeeded by the Duke of Leinster in 1776. His eldest son, Richard, third Baron and second Earl of Mornington, was raised on 31 July 1781, having paid his late father’s arrears and his own admission fee a few weeks earlier. A year later he followed in the footsteps of the Rt. Hon. William Randall, Earl of Antrim (who also served as Grand Master of the Antients Grand Lodge of England) as the new Grand Master of Ireland.

Wellington would no doubt have followed in their footsteps had time permitted him to pursue his Masonic career. There is no reason to suppose that the young Arthur was in anyway disenchanted with the Craft. The Lodge records show that on 7 December 1790 he paid his admittance fee of £2 5s 6d.

He is here referred to as ‘the Honorable Capt. Wesley’. A second entry, on 26 June 1792, states: ‘Pd now in advance Br. Wesley 14s 1d’. The records continue to show several occasions on which his dues are paid, the last entry on 8 September 1795. 

A further telling entry of his continued, even active, interest in Lodge affairs is his part purchase of an English Lottery Ticket on 16 February 1795 from the Lodge treasurer. The minutes for that date show that two English lottery tickets, the property of the only remaining seven regular Brethren of the Lodge, cost £45 10s 0d and: 

…the members who subscribed and are entitled to benefit of the tickets purchased of part of their fifty pounds are…the Honorable A. Wesley… 

The logical conclusion that Arthur had intentions to progress in the Craft is supported by Lord Combermere, Provincial Grand Master of Cheshire, at the death of Wellington. On 31 December 1852 the Freemasons’ Quarterly Magazine and Review reported verbatim Lord Combermere’s words, addressed to the Brethren of the Province on 27 October that year:

Perhaps it is not generally known that he (the Duke of Wellington) was a mason; he was made in Ireland; and often when in Spain, where Masonry was prohibited, in conversation (with Lord Combermere), he regretted repeatedly how sorry he was his military duties had prevented him taking the active part his feelings dictated.

In June 1794 Wellington left Cork for Ostend in command of a brigade for his first taste of active service, and resigned from the Lodge when he was posted to Austria and then to India in 1796.

He returned to England in September 1805, and in April 1806 was elected MP for Rye in Sussex. He was later to represent Mitchell, Cornwall and Newport, Isle of Wight. A year later he joined the Duke of Portland’s Tory Government as Chief Secretary for Ireland.

Meanwhile, his military career was reaching a peak. In 1808 he was made a Lieutenant General and was involved in the various military campaigns against Napoleon, known as the Peninsular War. Whilst stationed in Portugal in the autumn of 1809, an interesting episode provides an insight into his attitude toward Freemasonry. The Portuguese government, no doubt still under the influence of the several catholic Papal Bulls banning Freemasonry, had a natural political and religious distrust of Freemasons and other liberal bodies considered to be anti-clericals.

Freemasonry prospered in Portugal, not least since several of Napoleon’s officers were active in the Craft, including Marshals Lannes, Junot and Ney. Troops under Wellington held a Masonic meeting in Lisbon, following which they walked in procession and full regalia through the streets of the city. The Masons were stoned and only narrowly escaped being shot at, which was an embarrassment to the Duke, then acting as Marshal General of the Portuguese Army.

In an attempt to diffuse the tension, and in typical awareness of the sentiments of the local populace, Wellington issued a General Order dated 5 January 1810 addressed to his officers, requiring them to refrain from overt Masonic activity: an amusement which, however innocent in itself and allowed by the law of Great Britain, is a violation of the law of this [Portugal] Country, and very disagreeable to the people.

Five years later Wellington was again to come face to face with his Masonic reputation. Marshal Michel Ney, who met his end during the ‘White Terror’ as a traitor, executed by a firing squad on 7 December 1815 in a Paris public park, recognised Wellington as a Masonic brother.

In a document now apparently lost between Apsley House and the Southampton University archives, Marshal Ney appealed to Wellington ‘as a Brother’ to help save his life, but Wellington was not in a position to intervene. Ney had been initiated in Le Trinosophes Lodge No. 494 in Paris under the Grand Orient of France in 1826, and a legend has persisted that the ‘Bravest of the Brave’, as he had been referred to by Napoleon, escaped execution with the help of French Freemasons and the Duke of Wellington.

The legend is perpetrated by the inscription on Peter Stuart Ney’s tomb in the Third Creek Presbyterian Church in rural Rowan County, North Carolina, USA: In memory of Peter Stuart Ney, a native of France and soldier of the French Revolution under Napoleon Bonaparte, who departed this life Dec. 15, 1846, aged 77 years. Peter Stuart Ney, a schoolmaster, was buried there in 1846. His last words on his deathbed are reported to have been: By all that is holy, I am Marshal Ney of France.

Wellington’s military career was to reach its glorious peak on 18 June 1815 with the defeat of Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo. He served as Commander-in-Chief of the Occupation forces until his return to England in November 1818, and within a month joined the Cabinet as Master- General of Ordnance. His political career was crowned with success when he became Prime Minister on 9 January 1828.

Much has been made of the Duke’s negative remarks about his initiation into Freemasonry. In 1838 when Lodge No. 494 of Trim decided to move to Dublin, the new secretary, Edward Carleton, wrote to the Duke asking for permission to rename the Lodge in his honour. The Duke’s reply was polite and firm:

…(the Duke) perfectly recollects he was admitted to the lowest grade of Free Masonry in a Lodge which was fixed at Trim, in the County of Meath. He has never since attended a Lodge of Free Masons. He cannot say that he knows anything of the Art. His consent to give this Lodge his Name would be a ridiculous assumption of the reputation of being attached to free Masonry; in addition to being a misrepresentation, The Duke of Wellington hopes, therefore, that Mr Carleton will excuse the Duke for declining to comply with his suggestion…

But the Lodge members did not to give up so easily. In March 1843 the secretary applied to the Grand Lodge of Ireland as follows:

To The Right Worshipful the Grand Lodge of Ireland

The Memorial of Lodge No. 494 formerly held in Trim but now in Dublin respectfully sheweth that on the seventh day of December 1790 His Grace The Duke of Wellington then the Honorable Capt. Wesley was admitted a member of said Lodge No. 494.

That his Grace the Duke of Wellington having since that period signalized himself in a manner universally known Lodge No. 494 therefore prays that if in your wisdom you shall find it not inexpedient you will permit said Lodge No. 494 to bear the name and title of The Wellington Lodge and your memorialists aim duty bound will pray 

Dated Lodge Room 20 March 1843 

James McDonnell Master
William Wilson SW
Frank Thorpe Porter JW
Richard Pim Secretary 

The response is recorded in the Grand Lodge of Ireland Minutes of 6 April 1843: 

Read a Memorial from Lodge 494 requesting permission to take the title of the Wellington Lodge. The Board recommend that said request be granted. Postponed for the reconsideration of Lodge 494

The 17 April 1843 minutes of Lodge 494 show their decision not to pursue the matter: 

That this Lodge do communicate to the Grand Lodge their sense of the kind feeling they have received through the Secretary respecting the Memorial presented praying to be allowed in future to call themselves the Wellington Lodge and in consequence of the suggestions by him so expressed they beg to withdraw said memorial. 

It may have been the reluctance by members of the Lodge to publicise these various communications that led to much confusion of the Duke’s membership of the Craft. These were added to following Wellington’s death on 14th September 1852.

In the Freemasons’ Quarterly magazine for 31 March 1854, a Mr Walsh sent in a letter dated 6 March, referring to the various fraternal tributes being paid to the memory of the late Duke of Wellington. Mr Walsh stated that he had been writing a book to be entitled Ancient Builders of the World and: I was anxious to have the name and date of reception into Freemasonry of every illustrious man…For this purpose, I wrote to the Duke of Wellington, and the following is his reply:

London October 13, 1851 – F M The Duke of Wellington presents his compliments to Mr Walsh. He has received his letter of 7th ult. The Duke has no recollection of having been admitted a Freemason. He has no knowledge of that association.

Chetwood Crawley has correctly pointed out that the Duke of Wellington was now in his 82nd year, and that his blunt retort to an impertinent inquirer is much in character.

The Chinon Parchment – Were the Knights Templar Pardoned?

Rough translation of an obscure document that seems to demonstrate that the leaders of the Order of the Knights Templar were pardoned by papal investigators. For more information see the Wikipedia article

The text has also been published by Barbara Frale in Il papato e il processo ai templari : l’inedita assoluzione de Chinon alla luce della diplomatica pontificia. Le edizioni del Mulino. 2004 and on the In Rebus web site.

Investigation carried out
b
y the fathers commissioned by Pope Clement V
in the town of Chinon, diocese of Tours.

Chinon, August 17-20, 1308

In the name of the Lord, amen. We, Berengar, by the mercy of God cardinal presbyter of SS. Nereus and Achileus, and Stephanus, cardinal presbyter of St. Ciriacus in Therminis, and Landolf, cardinal deacon of St. Angel, declare through this official statement directed to all who will read it that since our most holy father and lord Clement, by divine providence the supreme pontific of the holy Roman and universal church, after receiving the word of mouth and also clamorous reports from the illustrious king of France and prelates, dukes, counts, barons and other subjects of the said kingdom, both noblemen and commoners, along with some brothers, presbyters, knights, preceptors and servants of the Templar order, had initiated an inquiry into matters concerning the brothers, [questions of Catholic faith] and the Rule of the said Order, because of which it suffered public infamy, the very same lord Pope wishing and intending to know the pure, complete and uncompromised truth from the leaders of the said Order, namely brother Jacques de Molay, grandmaster of the Order of Knights Tempar, brother Raymbaud de Caron, preceptor the commandaries of Templar Knights in Outremer, brother Hugo de Pérraud, preceptor of France, brother Geoffroy de Gonneville, preceptor of Aquitania and Poitou, and Geoffroy of Charny, preceptor of Normandy, ordered and commissioned us specifically and by his verbally expressed will in order that we might with diligence examine the truth by questioning the grandmaster and the aforementioned preceptors – one by one and individually, having summoned notaries public and trustworthy witnesses.

And having acted according to the mandate and commissioned by the said Lord Supreme Pontific, we questioned the aforementioned grandmaster and the preceptors and examined them concerning the matters described above. Their words and confessions were written down exactly the way they are included here by the notaries whose names are listed below in the presence of witnesses listed below. We also ordered these things drawn up in this official form and validated by the protection of our seals.

In the year of our Lord 1308, the 6th indiction, on the 17th day of August, in the 3d year of the pontificate of the said Pope Clement V, brother Raymbaud de Caron, preceptor the commandaries of Templar Knights in Outremer, was brought in front of us, the aforementioned fathers, to the town of Chinon of the Tours diocese. With his hand on the Holy Gospel of the Lord he took an oath that he would speak pure and complete truth about himself as well individuals and brothers of the Order, and about the Order itself, concerning questions of Catholic faith and the Rule of the said Order, and also about five particular individuals and brothers of the Order. Diligently interrogated by us about the time and circumstances of his initiation in the order he said that it was been forty-thee years or thereabouts since he had been knighted and admitted into the Templar Order by brother Roncelin de Fos, at the time preceptor of Provence, in the town of Richarenchess, in the diocese of Carpentras or Saint-Paul-Trois-Châteaux, in the chapel of the local Templar commandery. During the ceremony the patron said nothing to the novice that was not proper, but after the admittance a servant-brother came up to him whose name he does not recall, for he has been dead for a long time. He took him aside holding a small cross under his cloak, and when all the brothers exited and they remained alone, that is this brother-servant and the speaker, this brother-servant showed this cross to the speaker who does not recall whether it bore the effigy of the crucifix or not, but believes however, that there was a crucifix either painted or carved. And this brother-servant told the speaker: “You must denounce this one.” And the speaker, not believing himself to be committing a sin, said: “And so, I denounce.” That brother-servant also told the speaker that he should preserve purity and chastity, but if he could not do so, it was better to be done secretly than publicly. The speaker also said that his denunciation did not come from the heart, but from the mouth. Then he said that the next day he revealed this to the bishop of Carpentras, his blood relative, who was present in the said place, and the bishop told him that he had acted wrongly and committed a sin. Then the interrogated confessed on this account to the same bishop and was assigned penances with he completed, according to him.

When asked about the sin of sodomy, he said that he never was a part of it neither performing or enduring, and that he never heard that knights Templar engaged in this sin, apart from those three knights who had been punished by perpetual incarceration in Castle Pilgrim. When asked whether the brothers of the said Order were received into the order in the same manner he was received into it, he replied that he did not know that, because he never initiated anyone himself and did not see anyone being accepted in the Order other than two or three brothers. Regarding them he did not know whether they denounced Christ or not. When he was asked about the names of these brothers he said that one had the name of Peter, but that he did not remember his family name. When he was asked how old he was when he was made brother of the said Order he replied that he was seventeen years of age or thereabouts. When he was asked about the spitting on the cross and about the worshipped head, he said that he knew nothing, adding that he had never heard any mention of that head until he heard the lord Pope Clement speak of it this past year. When he was asked about the practice of kissing, he replied that the aforementioned brother Roncelin kissed him on the mouth when he received him as a brother; he said that he knew nothing about other kisses. When he was asked whether he wanted to maintain what he had said during the confession, whether it was done according to the truth, and whether he had added anything untruthful or withheld anything that is truthful, he replied that he wanted to maintain what he had previously said in his confession, that it was truthful and that he neither added anything that was untruthful nor omitted anything that was truthful. When he was asked whether he had confessed due to a request, reward, gratitude, favor, fear, hatred or persuasion by someone else, or the use of force, or fear of impending torture, he replied that he did not.

Afterwards, this very brother Raymbaud standing on his knees with his hands folded asked for our forgiveness and mercy regarding the abovementioned deeds. And as he pleaded so, brother Raymbaud denounced in our presence the abovementioned heresy, as well as any other heresy. For the second time he took an oath with his hand upon the Holy Gospel of our Lord in that he will obey the teachings of the Church, that he will maintain, uphold and observe the Catholic faith which the Roman Church maintains, upholds and proclaims, as well as teaches and requires of others to observe it, and that he will live and die as a faithful Christian. After this oath, by the authority of lord Pope specifically granted to us for that purpose, we extended to this humbly asking brother Raymbaud, in a form accepted by the Church the mercy of absolution from the verdict of excommunication that had been incurred by the aforementioned deeds, restoring him to unity with the Church and reinstating him for communion of the faithful and sacraments of the Church.

Also, on the same day, brother knight Geoffroy of Charny, preceptor of commanderies of the Templar Order in Normandy, appearing personally in the previously described manner and form, in our presence, and in the presence of notaries, as well as witnesses, modestly swore with his hand on the Gospel of the Lord and was questioned about the manner of his reception into the said Order. He testified that it has well been forty years or thereabouts since he was accepted into the Order of Knights Templar by brother Amaury de la Roche, the preceptor of France in Étamps of the diocese of Sens, in the chapel of the local Templar commandery. Present at the ceremony were brother Jean le Franceys, preceptor of Pédenac, and nine, ten or so brothers of the said Order whom he all believed to be dead now. And then, once he had been accepted in the order and the cloak of the order had been placed on his shoulders, the brother who performed the ceremony took him aside within the same chapel and showed him a crucifix with an effigy of Christ, and told him that he should not believe in the Crucified, but should in fact denounce Him. Then the newly accepted brother at the demand of the said recipient denounced Him verbally, but not in his heart. Also, he said that at the time of his induction, the novice kissed the recipient on the mouth and in his chest through the garment as a sign of reverence.

When asked whether brothers of the Templar Order while being initiated into the order were accepted in the same manner that he was, he said that he did not know. He also said that he himself received one brother into the said Order through the same ceremony through which he himself was accepted. Afterwards he accepted many others without the denunciation described earlier and in good manner. He also said that he confessed about the denunciation of the cross which he had done during the ceremony of induction and about being forced to do so by the brother performing the ceremony, to the Patriarch of Jerusalem of the time, and was absolved by him.

When diligently questioned regarding the spitting on the cross, the practice of kissing, the vice of sodomy and the worshipped head, he replied that he knew nothing of it. Further interrogated, he said that he believed that other brothers had been accepted into the Order in the same manner that he was. He said however that he did not know that for sure since when these things took place the newly received were taken aside so that other brothers who were present in the building would neither see nor hear what went on with them. Asked about the age that he was in when accepted into the said Order, he replied that he was sixteen, seventeen or thereabouts.

When he was asked whether he had said these things due to a request, reward, gratitude, favor, fear, hatred or persuasion by someone else, or the use of force, or fear of impending torture, he replied that he did not. When he was asked whether he wanted to maintain what he had said during the confession, whether it was done according to the truth, and whether he had added anything untruthful or withheld anything that is truthful, he replied that he wanted to maintain what he had previously said in his confession during which he had only said what was true, that what he said was according to the truth and that he neither added anything that was untruthful nor omitted anything that was truthful.

After this, we concluded to extend the mercy of absolution for these acts to brother Geoffroy, who in the form and manner described above had denounced in our presence the described and any other heresy, and swore in person on the Lord’s Holy Gospel, and humbly asked for the mercy of absolution, restoring him to unity with the Church and reinstating him for communion of the faithful and sacraments of the Church.

On the same day, in our presence and the presence of notaries, as well as the witnesses listed below, brother Geoffroy de Gonneville personally appeared and was diligently questioned about the time and circumstances of his reception and about other matters described above. He replied that it has been twenty eight years or thereabouts since he was received as a brother of the Order of the Knights Templar by brother-knight Robert de Torville, preceptor of the commandaries of the Templar order in England , in the city of London , at the chapel of the local commandery. And this receptor, after bestowing the cloak of the Knights Templar upon the this newly received member, showed him the cross depicted in some book and said that he should denounce the one whose image was depicted on that cross. When the newly received did not want to do so, the receptor told him multiple times that he should do so. And since he completely refused to do it, the receptor, seeing his resistance, said to him: “Will you swear to me that if asked by any of the brothers you would say that you had made this denouncement, provided that I allow you not to make it?” And the newly received answered “yes”, and promised that if he was questioned by any of the brother of the said Order he would say that he had performed the said denouncement. And, as he said, he made no denouncement otherwise. He also said that the said receptor told him that she should spit on the described cross. When the newly received did not wish to do so, the receptor placed his own hand over the depiction of the cross and said: “At least spit on my hand!” And since the received feared that the receptor would remove his hand and some of this spit would get on the cross, he did not want to spit on the hand with the cross being near.

When diligently questioned regarding the sin of sodomy, the worshipped head, about the practice of kissing and other things for which the brothers of the said order received a bad reputation, he said that he knew nothing. When asked whether other brothers of the Order were accepted into the Order in the same way as he was, he said that he believed that the same was done to others as it was done to him at the time of his described initiation.

When he was asked whether he had said these things due to a request, reward, gratitude, favor, fear, hatred or persuasion by someone else, or the use of force, or fear of impending torture, he replied that he did not. After this, we concluded to extend the mercy of absolution for these acts to brother Geoffroy de Goneville, who in the form and manner described above had denounced in our presence the described and any other heresy, and swore in person on the Lord’s Holy Gospel, and humbly asked for the mercy of absolution, restoring him to unity with the Church and reinstating him for communion of the faithful and sacraments of the Church.

Then on the nineteenth day of the month, in our presence, and in the presence of notaries and the same witnesses, brother Hugo de Pérraud, preceptor of Templar commanderies in France appeared personally and took an oath on the Holy Gospel of the Lord, placing his hand upon it in the manner described above. This brother Hugo, having sworn as indicated, and being diligently questioned said about the manner of his initiation that he was received in London at local Templar commandary, in its church. It was forty six years ago this past feast of St. Magdalene. He was inducted as a brother of the Order by brother Hubet de Perraud, his own father, a Visitator of the Templar commanderies in France andPoitou , who placed upon his shoulders the cloak of the said Order. This having been done, some brother of the said Order, by the name of John, who afterwards became preceptor of de La Muce, took him to a certain part of that chapel, showed him a cross with an effigy of Christ, and ordered him to denounce the One whose image was depicted there. He refused, as much as he could, according to him. Eventually, however, overcome by fear and menaces of brother John, he denounced the One whose image was depicted there only once. And although brother John multiple times demanded that he spit on that cross, he refused to do so.

When asked whether he had to kiss the receptor, he said that he did, only on the mouth.

When asked about the sin of sodomy, he replied that it was never imposed on him and he never committed it.

When asked whether he accepted others into the Order, he replied that he did many times, and that he accepted more people than any other living member of the Order.

When asked about the ceremony through which he accepted them, he said that after they were received and given the cloaks of the Order, he ordered them to denounce the crucifix and to kiss him at the bottom of the back, in the navel and then on the mouth. He also said that he imposed on them to abstain from partnership with women, and, if they were unable to restrain their lust, to join themselves with brothers of the Order.

He also said under oath that the aforementioned denunciation, which he performed during initiation, as well as other things described that he demanded from those received by him, was done in word only, and not in spirit. When asked why he felt pained and did not perform in spirit the things that he did, he replied that such were the statutes or rather traditions of the Order and that he always hoped that this error would be removed from the said Order.

When asked whether any of the members newly received by him refused to perform the described spitting and other dishonest things listed above, he replied that only few, and eventually all did as ordered. He also said that although he himself instructed brothers of the order whom he initiated to join with other brothers, nevertheless he never did that, nor heard that anyone else commit this sin, except for the two or three brothers in Outremer who were incarcerated for this in Castle Pilgrim.

When asked whether he knew if all brothers of the said Order were initiated in the same manner as he initiated others, he said that he did not know for sure about others, only about himself and those whom he initiated, because brothers are initiated in such secrecy that nothing can be known other than through those who are present. When asked whether he believed that they were all initiated in this manner, he said that he believed that the same ritual is used while initiating others as it was used in his case and as he himself administered when he received others.

When asked about the head of an idol that was reportedly worshiped by the Templars, he said that it was shown to him in Montpellier by brother Peter Alemandin, preceptor of that place, and that this head remained in possession of brother Peter.

When asked how old he was when accepted into the said Order, he replied that he heard his mother say that he was eighteen. He also said that previously he had confessed about these things in the presence of brother Guillaume of Paris, inquisitor of heretical actions, or his deputy. This confession was written down in the hand of the undersigning Amise d’Orleans and some other notaries public. He wishes to maintain that confession, just as it is, as well as maintain in the present confession that which is in concord with the previous one. And if there is anything additional in this confession in front of the Inquisitor or his deputy, as has been said above, he ratifies, approves and confirms it.

When he was asked whether he had confessed to these things due to a request, reward, gratitude, favor, fear, hatred or persuasion by someone else, or the use of force, or fear of impending torture, he replied that he did not. When he was asked whether he, after being apprehended, was submitted to any questioning or torture, he replied that he did not.

After this, we concluded to extend the mercy of absolution for these acts to brother Hugo, who in the form and manner described above had denounced in our presence the described and any other heresy, and swore in person on the Lord’s Holy Gospel, and humbly asked for the mercy of absolution, restoring him to unity with the Church and reinstating him to communion of the faithful and sacraments of the Church.

Then on the twentieth day of the month, in our presence, and in the presence of notaries and the same witnesses, brother-knight Jacques de Molay, grandmaster of  the Order of Knights Templar appeared personally and having sworn in the form and manner indicated above, and having been diligently questioned, said it has been forty-two years or thereabouts since he was received as a brother of the said Order by brother-knight Hubert de Pérraud, at the time Visitator of France and Poitou, in Beune, diocese of Autun, in the chapel of the local Templar commandery of that place.

Concerning the way of his initiation into the Order, he said that having given him the cloak the receptor showed to him <the cross> and told him that he should denounce the God whose image was depicted on that cross, and that he should spit on the cross. Which he did, although he did not spit on the cross, by near it, according to his words. He also said that performed this denunciation in words, not in spirit. Regarding the sin of sodomy, the worshipped head and the practice of illicit kisses, he, diligently questioned, said that he knew nothing of that.

When he was asked whether he had confessed to these things due to a request, reward, gratitude, favor, fear, hatred or persuasion by someone else, or the use of force, or fear of impending torture, he replied that he did not. When he was asked whether he, after being apprehended, was submitted to any questioning or torture, he replied that he did not.

After this, we concluded to extend the mercy of absolution for these acts to brother Jaques de Molay, the grandmaster of the said order, who in the form and manner described above had denounced in our presence the described and any other heresy, and swore in person on the Lord’s Holy Gospel, and humbly asked for the mercy of absolution, restoring him to unity with the Church and reinstating him to communion of the faithful and sacraments of the Church.

On the same twentieth day of the month, in our presence, and in the presence of notaries and the same witnesses, brother Geoffroy de Gonneville freely and willingly ratified, approved and confirmed his signed confession that was read to him in his native tongue, and gave assurances that he intended to stand by and maintain both this confession and the confession he made on a different occasion in front of the Inquisitor or inquisitors regarding the aforementioned heretic transgressions, in as much as it was in concordance with the confession made in front of us, the notaries and the aforementioned witnesses; and that if there is something extra contained in the confession made in front of the Inquisitor and inquisitors, as it was said earlier, he ratifies, approves and confirms that.

On the same twentieth day of the month, in our presence, and in the presence of notaries and the same witnesses, brother-preceptor Hugo de Perraud in a similar way freely and willingly ratified, approved and confirmed his signed confession that was read to him in his native tongue.

We ordered Robert de Condet, cleric of the diocese of Soissons, a notary by apostolic power, who was among us together with notaries and witnesses listed below, to record and make public as evidence these confessions, as well as each and every thing described above that occurred in front of us, the notaries and the witnesses, and also everything done by us, exactly as it is shown above, and to validate it by attaching our seal.

This was done on the year, indiction, month, day, pontificate and the place indicated above, in our presence and the presence of Umberto Vercellani, Nicolo Nicolai de Benvenuto and the aforementioned Robert de Condet, and also master Amise d’Orleans le Ratif, notaries public by the apostolic power, as well as pious and distinguished brother Raymond, abbot of the Benedictine monastery of St. Theofred, Annecy diocese, master Berard de Boiano, archdeacon of Troia, Raoul de Boset, confessor and canon from Paris, and Pierre de Soire, overseer of Saint-Gaugery in Cambresis, who were gathered specifically as witnesses.

And I, Robert de Condet, cleric of the diocese of Soissons, notary by apostolic power, observed with other notaries and witnesses each and every thing described above that occurred in the presence of the aforementioned reverend fathers lords cardinal presbyters, myself and other notaries and witnesses, as well as what was done by their lordships. On the orders from their lordships the cardinal presbyters, I made this record, and put in the official form, and sealed it with my seal, having been asked to do so.

And also I, Umberto Vercellani, cleric of Béziers, notary by apostolic power, observed with other notaries and witnesses each and every thing described above that occurred in the presence of the aforementioned lords cardinal presbyters, as well as what was done by their lordships cardinal presbyters just as it is shown above in fuller detail. On the orders from these cardinal presbyters, for further assurance, I wrote underneath this record and sealed it with my seal.

And also I, Nicolo Nicolai di Benevento, notary by apostolic decree, observed with other aforementioned notaries and witnesses each and every thing described above that occurred in the presence of the aforementioned lords cardinal presbyters, as well as what was done by their lordships just as it is shown above in fuller detail. On the orders from these cardinal presbyters, for further assurance, I wrote underneath this record and sealed it with my seal.

And also I, Arnulphe d’Orléans called le Ratif, notary by the power of the Holy Roman Church, observed with other aforementioned notaries and witnesses confessions, depositions and other each and every thing described above that occurred in the presence of the aforementioned reverend fathers lords cardinal presbyters, as well as what was done by their lordships just as it is shown above in fuller detail. On the orders from these cardinal presbyters, as a testimony of truth, I wrote underneath this record and sealed it with my seal, having been asked to do so.

Freemasonry in Italy

Written by Giovanni Lombardo

Part 1 – From the beginnings up to 1805

italyModern Freemasonry was created in London in 1717, from there it spread in France, Holland and into the Germanic world. Each Grand Lodge adapted the general rules to its national features. In Italy the environment was quite different: Italy was not yet a State, being divided into smaller reigns, so a national Grand Lodge was missing. Italian Lodges were set up by foreign Grand Lodges, which patented them. The lodges were therefore under the influence of foreign Crafts. The political climate was also different from that of north-European countries. In England, for instance, Freemasonry was the liberal instrument to bring peace to the nation, which had faced a civil and religious war between Catholic and Protestants. Italy was instead in the domain of a harsh Counter-Reform, which hampered developing free consciences with any means, either brutal or underhanded. Italian Freemasonry was therefore forced to act clandestinely, because of the influence of the Holy See on the various States of the peninsula. This explains the anticlericalism in the Lodges and their becoming ‘the gathering place’ of nonconformists of every tendency: from deists and libertines to the most convinced champions of the political liberties and the democracy

The first lodge was set up in Florence in 1731 and seven years later on 28th April 1738 the Catholic Church published In Eminenti, the first papal bull against Freemasonry. The various Italian States refused to register it, however in Tuscany the situation was delicate: the Medici dynasty was just ended and the political power passed to Francis Stephen of Lorraine, brother-in-law of the Emperor and husband of Maria Teresa. In 1739 Cardinal Corsini, the nephew of Pope Clemens XII, personally asked the Duke to arrest the Freemasons and to hand them on the Inquisition’s tribunal. Only the poet Tommaso Crudeli was arrested. He was kept in jail for one year, in hard conditions that seriously weakened his health. He died in 1745. Other lodges were founded in Leghorn, in 1763 and 1765, patented by the Antients. The Moderns instead established two lodges in 1771.

On 27th December 1789 Vincenzo Balzamo arrived in Rome and tried to set up his lodge, which in his opinion would have been working in accordance with the Egyptian ritual (nowadays Memphis and Misraim). Cagliostro was arrested, excommunicated and put in jail in the fortress of Saint Leo, where he died in 1797.

In Turin, in 1744, a lodge probably existed. We surely know that 1749, in Chambery, was set up the Saint Jean des Trois Mortiers lodge, whose patent had been given by the Grand Lodge of London to the marquis François Noyel de Belleguarde. Other lodges were created afterward. In 1771 this lodge acquired even more importance, due to the quality of the Brethren and to their contacts with other high-rank Freemasons, all over Europe. Let us remind Sebastiano Giraud, a physician, Gabriele Asinari earl of Bernezzo and Giacomo Gamba della Perosa. They all were pupils of Martinez de Pasqually. In 1774 Dr. Giraud set up the Strict Observance – member of which was Joseph de Maistre. Some years later, in 1779, such Freemasonry converted itself into the Scottish Rectified Rite. In 1783 Vittorio Amedeo III banned Freemasonry from his reign.

In 1746 two Englishmen, John Murray and Joseph Smith set up a new lodge, with the Italian Brothers Giacomo Casanova, Francesco Griselini and Carlo Goldoni. Other Lodges followed in the forthcoming years. In 1772 Bro. Pietro Gratarol founded L’Union, patented by the Grand Lodge of London.

In Milan two Swiss citizens, Pierre George Madiott and a certain Moussard, founded the first Lodge around 1756. The abbot Pavesi, the monk Celestino Scalzi, the marquis Ottaviano Casnedi, earl Carlo Belgioso, doctor Vincenzo d’Adda, general Joseph Esterhazy and some officials of the Army were member of the Lodge. In 1776 another lodge was established in Cremona. Worshipful Master was count Pasquale Biffi, a close friend of Cesare Beccaria and of the Verri brothers. Other lodges were in Liguria: in Genua the Old British and Ligurian Lodge was patented by the Grand Lodge of London.

In 1751 pope Benedict XIV released the bull Providas Romanorum Pontificum, thus confirming the Freemasonry’s prohibition contained in the previous bull, In Eminenti. The publication of this new bull forced king Charles VII of Bourbon to ban Freemasonry from his reign. 

Neapolitan Freemasonry ‘slept’ till 1763. Charles VII was crowned king of Spain and his throne passed to his son Ferdinand IV, under the tutorship of Bernardo Tanucci. The Grand Lodge of Holland patented Les Zelés lodge, which was promoted Grand Provincial Lodge one year after. The Grand Lodge of London quarreled with its Dutch sister on the right to patent new lodges abroad. The dispute was won by London, whose daughter lodge, Perfect Union, was confirmed Grand Provincial Lodge in 1770. In 1775, however, the prince of Caramanico set up Lo Zelo lodge, claiming independence from any foreign Obedience.

In 1775 king Ferdinand IV forbade any Masonic activity. Some Associates were imprisoned, others exiled. In 1776 Diego Naselli was elected Grand Master of the Neapolitan Grand Lodge. Beside it, the English Provincial Grand Lodge survived. The difference between the two was quite clear: permeated by esotericism, often confining with extravagant fantasy, the former; more democratic, open to Enlightenment the latter. The French Revolution and the following reaction shall sweep both away.

Part 2 – From 1805 up to today

Grande Oriente d’Italia was founded in June of 1805 to Milan, and was set under the regency of Eugene Beauharnais. It was the epoch of the Napoleonic Freemasonry, more courtesan than loyalist and heavily neoclassic. With the fall of the French empire and of its Murat’s appendage in Naples, the Italian Freemasonry fell in a deep crisis. Some groups went on working under traditional principles, especially in Sicily, but this was not enough to assure the necessary cove rage to develop and to produce a sketch of essential unitary Freemasonry at the end of the ‘Risorgimento’.

The extreme precedent dispersion of the Masonic groups, combined to the formation of “secret societies” similar to the Freemasonry, but active on the political plain only, contributed to make difficult and hard-working the following Masonic reconstruction. The rudder of the rebirth was firmly grasped by the Loggia Ausonia denominated then “Mother Lodge” that, at the end of 1859, the Grande Oriente d’Italia reconstituted. In those years the anticlerical position of the Grande Oriente d’Italia became rather hard, above all for the Roman matter, for which the Lodges were lined up against the clergy in Rome.

In the 1867 Giuseppe Garibaldi wrote to the Supreme Council in Palermo: “Let’s make Freemasonry the Roman Bundle, so to act united in politics. We don’t yet have the material unity because the moral unity misses us. Let Freemasonry do this, and that immediately will be done”.

In 1870, thanks also to the active share of the vertexes of the Craft, then held up by the regent Giuseppe Mazzoni (1808-1889), the Italian Army conquered Rome.

The polemic tones with the Church became sour. In 1884, when the Pope released the encyclical Humanum Genus, Freemasonry’s house-organ heavily scoffed the Au thor, pope Leone XIII.

The most important year of the Italian Masonic history of beginning XX century was 1908, when a schism occurred in June. The Parliament he was intensely dealing with a motion formalized by Leonida Bissolati, against the proposal of law for the prohibi¬tion of the religious teaching in the elementary schools. Despite the appeals and the declarations of tolerance pronounced in the circumstance by the Grande Oriente d’Italia, many free masons members of Parliament voted against such motion, being thus blamed by Grand Master Ettore Ferrari. Those Brethren then set up a new Masonic body, called Gran Loggia d’Italia of “Piazza del Gesù”, which is still active today, although as co-masonic order.

At the beginning of the First World War, Freemasonry was openly in favor of the war against the Absburgic Empire, either for ideological reasons – Austria was a Catholic country – or to complete the national independence, by annexing Trent and Trieste.

The merit gained throughout the war did not spare Freemasonry from the hate of Fascism. In February 1923 the Gran Consiglio del Fascismo declared the incompatibility between Masonic affiliation and adherence to the Fascist Party. A wave of violence immediately repressed about 400 Italian Lodges, scattering 20.000 Associates.

Mussolini’s politics gained the benevolence of the Roman Catholic Church, flattening the road toward the Laterano’s Agreements. Subsequently many Freemasons were dismissed from public offices, imprisoned or confined.

At the end of 1926 the Grand Master Domizio Torreggiani loosened all the Italian Lodges. The ‘Tribunale Speciale’ (the Fascist Special Court) then condemned him to the confinement of police. When he became blind he was allowed to come back home where he died in 1932. Sporadic groups survived covertly. They persevered in meeting as and where they were able, to preserve the ‘light’.

Immediately after the end of the Second World War, the rebirth of the Italian Freemasonry was characterized by a phantasmagoria of groups seeking after foreign recognitions so to certify their regularity. Most of the regular Grand Lodges progressively recognized the Grande Oriente d’Italia; the American Supreme Council of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite recognized the Rite at the obedience of Grande Oriente d’Italia.

In 1972 the Grand Master Lino Salvini achieved a double, huge success: the reunion with Gran Loggia d’Italia, Piazza del Gesù and the exchange of Grand Representati ves with UGLE, after 110 years.

At the beginning of 1981 went off the scandal of Loggia P2. Both magistrates and Parliament inquired high-rank civil servants charged of conspiracy against the State. “Much ado about nothing” since Freemasonry was discharged by any accusation, the clamor was however such to produce a great number of defections, that brought to the break-up of several Lodges and the weakening of the others. Grand Master Armando Corona (1982 – 1990), worked hard to recoup the prestige of the Craft, shunning the Brethren who had kept an antimasonic behavior.

In 1993 a tremendous episode broke the routine life of Grande Oriente d’Italia. The Grand Master Giu liano Di Bernardo resigned and abandoned his house in the new centre of the Grande Oriente d’Italia, taking away various documents. He motivated his initiative with presumed conspira¬cies against the laws of the State affected by nonexistent covered Lodges, and denouncing false irregularities allegedly committed by some Lodges. Immediately before going out of Grande Oriente d’Italia  with few hundred followers he set up the Gran Loggia Regolare d’Italia, which was recognized by UGLE, as quickly as inexplicably. 

The scandal was enormous, the Magistrates inquired; the inquiry lasted ten years but nobody has been ever charged of any crime whatever.

For sake of truth, it must clearly stated that most of the scandals which happened have been artificially alimented by left-wing political parties that considered Freemasonry ‘enemy of class’ that (allegedly) hampered the democratic life of the country, acting as a ‘secret society’. To charge Freemasonry of being a ‘secret society’ is today ridiculous, since the addresses and telephone number of the various Masonic houses are published in phone-directories.

Today the Craft counts around 18000 members in over 600 Lodges and has fraternal relations with over 200 foreign Communions in the five continents.